Book Review: A Long Silence

Throughout most of her life, Sabina de Werth Neu who was born in Germany in 1941 was ashamed and embarrassed by her past and being German. In this very personal memoir, Sabina revisits and comes to terms with her heritage and often traumatic past. As her mother struggled to provide for her three young daughters while Sabina’s father fought in the war, the small family frequently had to move and make do with very little. Their life was abruptly shattered when the Russian army swept through the countryside. Though Sabina was only a three year old, solders raped her along with her older sisters and mother who was also brutally beaten. Like many, Sabina’s family never discussed the events that would later dramatically influence their adult lives.

By writing of those years from early childhood on through her adolescence, Sabina, now an American citizen, sought to finally come to terms with her personal and national history. Throughout the book, the author acknowledges that as bad as things were, as someone who survived that terrible time, she was one of the lucky ones. Poignant and unflinching, this personal story effectively captures the loss of innocence and the true price of war while showing what life was like as a German child during one of history’s darkest times.

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